Chandigarh, June 5
Use of single-use plastic continues unabated in the city even as several awareness programmes were organised to mark World Environment Day today.
Polythene bags are being used openly in city’s vegetable markets and local shops as shopkeepers and vendors do not hesitate to hand over items in these bags. Other banned plastic materials are also readily available in the market.
The authorities have from time to time challaned violators, but it has failed to act as a deterrent. Although partial impact is visible on the ground as some traders and market associations have stopped its use.
Citizens must take lead
This should be a citizen-driven initiative. No shopkeeper wants to keep polybags. Citizens must carry own bags. If they carry own water bottles, use of bottled water will go down. — Anindita Mitra, MC Commissioner
Interestingly, most of the household garbage picked up by door-to-door waste collectors of the MC daily is given in plastic bags.
“There is a need for behavioural change and awareness. When single-use plastic was banned, there was some initial impact, but gradually the banned items started coming back into the market. Consumers as well as sellers have to realise this and shun its use,” says Prof Ravindra Khaiwal from the Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGI.
“We need to provide an alternative to plastic such as bamboo, paper or other residue-built materials. It is not that all kinds of plastic are banned. Plastics of certain thickness can be used. We also need to enhance legal compliance for effective results,” he adds.
Apart from being a major cause of mortality among animals, plastic bags are non-biodegradable and result in toxicity in food stored in packages. Meals heated in plastic bags can cause ulcers, asthma, obesity, and certain types of cancers in humans. Even during manufacturing, toxic chemicals are released into the environment, say experts.
On July 1 last year, the Centre had ordered a nationwide ban on single-use plastic items, but both customers as well as shopkeepers continued to flout the norms. Soon after the ban came into effect, a joint task force of the municipal corporation and the Chandigarh Pollution Control Board had cracked the whip on violators.
More than 800 challans have been issued in the past six months, but these have failed to deter people from using polythene items.
What is banned
Ear buds with plastic sticks; plastic sticks for balloons; plastic flags; candy sticks; ice-cream sticks; polystyrene (thermocol); plastic plates, cups, glasses, cutlery such as forks, spoons, knives, straws, trays; plastic wrapping or packaging film around sweet boxes; plastic invitation cards; and plastic cigarette packets; plastic or PVC banners of less than 100 micron; plastic stirrers
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